Vancouver School Board report argues school closures an "immoral" act

Post by Mike Klassen in

84 comments

morality?
How did all this discussion or morality find itself into a VSB staff report?

So much for a day of rest, as this has been a Sunday of political twists and turns like none other, with the NDP cancelling its emergency caucus meeting, and the rumoured announcement of Christy Clark's entry to the race for the Premier's job delayed.

For the church-goer who might have spent an hour or so listening to a sermon Sunday morning, if you feel like being preached to a little bit longer then pick up the VSB staff report released to the public at noon. This ain't no ordinary bureaucratic report, it's an at times bizarre moral rationalization for deciding to do nothing on the school closures question.

The VSB report released today is titled "Public Consultation on School Closures and Recommendations to the Vancouver Board of Education," but you'd be forgiven after reading the passages copied below if you mistook it either for a Hollyhock marketing brochure, or the diaries of a wild-eyed cleric.

When it came to the report's conclusions, after spending approximately $30,000 to poll the public it's incredible that the VSB decided to ignore the findings outright. As we reported earlier today, when the public was asked if they would choose school closure, or cuts to programs and staff at schools, 48% of the 500-person poll sample said they would close schools. Only 32% said they would prefer keeping the school over the program or staff.

When asked if they wanted to close the school or keep it open (with no other options) a surprisingly high 37% said they would close the school in the face of tight budgets. 55% said they would keep it open.

So why did the VSB management recommend to keep all the schools open and place a moratorium on any closure discussion until 2012? Well, a cynic might suggest that it had something to do with the declining popularity of Vision Vancouver and the forthcoming November 2011 election. But you would be wrong.

Rather, the decision to keep the schools open was apparently a moral one. And if you argue otherwise, well, you'd be immoral. Here are several passages beginning at page 37 of the staff report under the heading "Section 5 -­â€  Options, considerations, decision-­â€making."

World-renowned educator, Michael Fullan at the University of Toronto argues, "Moral purpose is about ends and means. In education, an important end is to make a difference in the lives of (all) students. But the means of getting to that end are also crucial."

The school closure process has been one of extreme challenge and difficulty for all concerned. It is a process in itself that needs a thorough review. In deep philosophical, historical, political and ethical terms, the means may not necessarily justify the ends.  However, from the outset, the process has provided keen insight, information and has placed a crucial level of importance on the qualitative, community voice that has emerged and predominated the public consultative process.

There's no question that many community voices spoke with sincerity at what their schools meant to them. But you'd be naive to ignore the amount of political organizing went into the consultation process, especially on the part of NDP MLAs who exploited several communities' anxiety. The report doesn't raise this as an issue.

The data used to arrive at recommendations and to be ultimately utilized in the decision-making process have included numerical information, which provided quantitative arguments suggesting due consideration of closure. These data remain cold, hard and alone without the warm, colourful and flavoured context of each community. The qualitative evidence provided at each public meeting painted a rich and vivid picture of each school and neighbourhood. Each school under consideration for closure is a unique case study. Mixing the two sources of evidence, objective and subjective together, results in a more complete story for each school.

However, another component must also enter into the information gathering and decision-making process, and that is the larger consideration of the entire school district and the students served throughout the system; more closely aligning community obligation versus individual preference and system priorities versus local needs.

This last paragraph reads as though the Governor is debating giving clemency for an inmate on death row, not whether the resources required by a community will get them. Incredibly, the most important and simple description of the dilemma is buried at the end of a long paragraph at the bottom of page 38:

The question of whether or not to protect buildings over staff, resources and programs is at the heart of the decision-­making challenge.

Ya think? Well, the report goes on to another section with a sub-heading "Decision-making: An ethical dilemma" (yes, I'm not kidding on this). It begins:

The Board in having ultimate responsibility for determining the pathway and choice to  take is faced with an ethical dilemma. Trustees must each weigh all of the evidence  placed before them and collectively come to a final resolution. Their thought processes must pit the needs of the community for retaining a neighbourhood ‘school house’ against the broad needs of the school district for maintaining staff, resources and programs.

The image of a "school house" conjures poor kids walking barefoot down a remote country road. Cute, but hardly fitting.

Now the report all but asks us to bow our heads and close our eyes real tight with the following passage:

It is difficult to ascribe the need for moral courage with this situation. In fact, traditional definitions of courage involving danger and endurance do not seem to have a place in this ethical dilemma. However, adding the third dimension of principle enables one to see a connection. It is a principled position that will help describe a pathway to resolution. This is a question of commitment to principle in the face of potentially significant pressure over the needs of individuals versus community and the fiscal responsibility for the appropriate use of public funds. In the final analysis this is not just about the financial costs involved; one must also consider courage and what is right in a moral sense.

Get ready for the answer for this deep moral dilemma laid out by VSB staff. It's encapsulated in two paragraphs on page 40.

In trying to reach a sensible and credible solution that balances the needs of the larger community and those of the local school and neighbourhood, the either/or scenario may not be the answer. In seeking the necessary resolution to the dilemma first posed, in the final analysis, there may be a third way forward that provides middle ground for a resolution. It still enables the greatest good for the greatest number. It comes down to communication and dialogue. It is a compromise and it takes time. In the short term, it potentially creates great frustration and further uncertainty. It requires the initiation of conversation and debate among all members of the community. It depends on the commitment and dedication of all who have a stake in the educational enterprise. It requires the active participation of everyone who attended the public consultation meetings – and more.

The solution proposed is to put a hold on all school closures for an interim period. It calls on our respective communities to engage in a thorough and comprehensive exploration, examination and analysis of the educational and physical plant requirements for each sector in the city. It calls for a complete review in collaboration with city planners, provincial partners, community members and school district personnel.

This is indeed the best bureaucratic bafflegab I've read in an age. Apparently to be moral is to do nothing. And in the time it takes to cook a chicken dinner Vision and COPE endorsed the conclusions of this report.

What Vancouver needed from Steve Cardwell and his staff was leadership and a direction on where our public schools should go. Instead we got Moses dragging us up Mount Sinai.

Heaping the responsibility upon a future board, and not confronting the challenges faced by the system today, that to me sounds immoral.

***

UPDATE: The dinner hour newscasts are filled with gloating politicians saying their efforts "saved" the schools. MP Don Davies, MLA Adrian Dix and Coun. Kerry Jang squeezed themselves into the background of every camera angle of all the coverage. Meanwhile, the rhetoric from Vision continues with Mike Lombardi saying they're planning to use the political instability of the province to lobby for more funding, and Patti Bacchus reportedly said that the board was "making progress" during George Abbott's short stint as Education Minister (Margaret MacDiarmid, who became a whipping bull for the left, has returned as MoE).

- post by Mike

84 Comments

And how do these fools plan to pay for their new found morality?

Maybe Tides Canada can help them out.

Demographics change, schools close. Nothing to do with "morality". What immoral is the taxpayers dollars being wasted because ill-informed people don't understand this concept which has being going on for a long time...

VSB starting to sound like the boy who cried Wolf, they put parents and kids through Hell the bam no schools closing,
A comparison to running a peanut stand come to mind

Maybe Tides should open up their own set of private schools, like Montessori but they can call it Hollyhock?

Once again these Vision twits have equated their view with being moral vs. others being immoral.

Total arrogance.

I'll point out again that Vision probably did not write the report. It was penned by Cardwell and his staff. However, there are a number of signs that the whole process was politically tainted.

Of course, the finger-wagging from Vision and COPE is that they're for keeping schools open and everyone else is for closures. Patti Bacchus likes to roll out her fuzzy math when it comes to what is saved by closing schools, but her numbers become much more supportive when she proposes creating new free child care programs and arts programs in empty school space.

Parents who are stuck with extra Pro D days, longer holiday schedules, cuts to programs and reduction of staff and resources in other schools might start to wonder if it's worth keeping empty schools open. Clearly the poll done by the VSB that Vision/COPE ignored would tell them the public is more supportive of keeping staff and programs over empty schools.

You read it here first, Vision and COPE are not done with beating up Victoria. The only way they can justify their own inaction is to continue the class war.

rf has a good thought: Vision could set up private indocrination centers, I mean schools, and call it "Hollessori" or "Montehock"

As Mike points out, you guys do realize the VSB and Vision are different things? The attack dogs are out in full force! lol

@boohoo:

Just curious, did you see any of the news clips covering this subject last night?

For f**k's sake! Is there no one in public service with the balls to make a tough decision and live by it? A 40 page report full of bafflegab and bullsh*t that contains a final recommendation to do NOTHING. WOW. And we are paying these self-important do-nothings to come up with this crap. When the taxpayer revolution comes I know who I will line up against the wall first. And I won't require mountains of dollars and multi-page reports to aid me in my decision making about what I will do with them once they are up against the wall. Ready...aim....fire them!

"In deep philosophical, historical, political and ethical terms, the means may not necessarily justify the ends".

Amen, Brother.

And people wonder why school boards are famous for their incompetence, inefficiency and endless demands for more money. They also deserve recognition for their abilities as authors of fiction. Not just a dry, objective summary but a stirring clarion call to inaction. You'd weep if you knew how much we pay the Superintendent and his Assistant Superintendents to come up with this bilge.

Let's take a look at the School Act (you know, the LAW which specifies precisely what boards may and may not do):

Division 2 - Powers and Duties
Establishment and closure of schools
73 (1) A board may
(a) subject to the orders of the minister, open, close or reopen a school permanently
or for a specified period of time, and
(b) temporarily close a school building if the health or safety of the students is
endangered.
(2) The board may operate more than one school in a single building or location.
[2002-53-16, effective May 30/02]
Management of schools and property
74 (1) A board is responsible for the management of the schools in its school district and for
the custody, maintenance and safekeeping of all property owned or leased by the board.

Next gambit? Submit a deficit "needs" budget, provoke confrontation with Minister, Minister appoints Special Administrator to take control of VSB and balance budget, Vision proclaims: "See, the Liberals trample on democratic rights and immorally close schools and lay off unionized staff. Join us to fight for justice for children and a better pension and benefits package!".

No Max, I didn't. Better things to do on a Sunday night than watch politicians and bureaucrats talk out both sides of their ass while accomplishing nothing I suppose.

I'm fairly certain the shit will hit the fan at some point within Cabinet. Grounds for a new MOE to summarily fire the VSB.

James just stepped down as leader. Moe will be rubbing his hands in anticipation.

Has anyone heard any rumblings about the NDP trying to get Gregor to go for the leadership? I SHUTTER AT THE THOUGHT...but thought I'd ask.

It seems Gregor running for Premier would be the obvious evolution in Visions 500 year plan...

A leadership convention now pretty much excludes Gregor. He would have to resign as mayor in order to devote himself to the NDP leadership race, and in doing so would doom himself as an opportunistic quitter. The timing of this announcement is most inconvenient to his worship if he has any provincial ambitions.

Put more simply - he's hooped.

Douglas,

And thank goodness for that! Oh, and not that I'm a conspiracy theorist or anything, but I have to wonder if Jenny Kwan didn't time all this for that exact reason.

Jenny Kwan - f*#^n NDP Hack! (lol)
seriously though....if that was her goal, someone buy the woman a beer!
In the meantime, we can all watch the bolsheviks go at the mensheviks hammer and icepick in between christmas specials.

ok guys, i know that fixing the education system is one of the essential issues to be dealt with and that we all get really emotional about it every now and then, but please start supporting your points with some serious argumentation and do not just offend other people on the discussion board!

@Elli,

As long as there is management in place that would write such a report, a Board that would adopt it and a Teachers Union that exercises so much influence, the education system in Vancouver won't be fixed. That is why the private school system is growing and the public system is contracting. Too bad for the kids whose parents are unable to put them in private school.

Running out of patience
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)
Mike Bothwell
12/7/2010


Trustee Ken Denike says his opponents on the School Board aren't willing to make necessary cuts, "We could do it differently. We could do some real management. But obviously the majority on this Board is unwilling to do that.

Denike suggests one way to save money: instead of having administrators for each school, a team could manage a group of schools.

Scott:

Back in the early srping, Bacchus and co. were crying and talking loudly to the media about the number of teachers that would be either fired or laid off in order to balance the budget. I believe the number was 800.

How many of these teachers were effected in any which way??

None.

So it comes as no surprise that Bacchus and co. were crying wolf about school closures.

They did it for the sole reason of riling up the parents, causing them and the children grief - in order to stick it to the Liberal government that was on the rails.

Politics, nothing more, nothing less.

Denike's idea about shared administrators between schools is something that the teacher unions have suggested to the Board for a number of years, including the 2005-2008 NPA board that Denike was a member of. His board ignored that idea.

Actually, Max, several hundereds of teachers did receive a layoff notice, and only some of them have been recalled. A significant number of teaching jobs (and support staff jobs) were also eliminated, bringing the overall total of teaching jobs (and support staff jobs) down in Vancouver schools.

I don't disagree that direct services to kids should outweigh facilities. But trustee Denike's current take on the situation contradicts what the 2005-2008 NPA board decided to do itself, despite options to the contrary.

Fact is there is no more $ in the kitty. School Board has to operate within the budget figures given. If the school board does not wish to close schools, then something else has to give. That something else is salaries and jobs (soft costs). One administer for several low-enrollment schools saves money, and makes sense. It won't be enough savings, but it will be a start.

Yours is a very good suggestion -Max. Sadly, with this school board, any suggestion other than 'just give us more $' will never see the light of day.

All governance, school board, municipal, and on up have got to learn that more operation $ just is not on, and start to prioritize accordingly.

Here we go again
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980)
Mike Bothwell
12/7/2010


The Vancouver School Board is warming up to lobby the Province for more money.

The Board has passed a motion asking staff to report back on budget challenges faced by Vancouver Schools. It'll be used to lobby the Provincial Government and local MLAs.

But the Education Minister has already warned the District not to expect more money to deal with a projected 9.6 million dollar deficit.

All this follows a report from Vancouver's School Superintendent recommending the District not go through with plans to close schools as a way to save money.

Ontario was/is going through the same problem.

A very interesting article ran in the Globe & Mail on how the budget shortfalls could be helped by using new teacher hires to cover off leave of absenses rather than using retired teachers - who are already collecting penions, cover them off.

It made sense and is worth the read and the consideration. However, you would have to have co-operation of the BCTF and we know - the buck stops there.

Ontario school boards squander $16.7-million by hanging on to retirees

Caroline Alphonso and Kate Hammer
From Monday's Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Apr. 19, 2010 4:00AM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Apr. 25, 2010 11:04PM EDT

Ontario’s largest cash-strapped school boards squandered $16.7-million in the last academic year by enabling retirees to pad their pensions with supply-teaching work rather than hiring new teachers, a Globe and Mail investigation has found.

Retired teachers working in 10 school boards, representing half the student population, collected $108.3-million in the 2008-09 school year from taxpayers on top of their government-subsidized pensions, taking advantage of a system rife with loopholes that leaves new teachers scrambling for crumbs.

The investigation revealed widespread overspending, with boards favouring retirees over new teachers for supply assignments at a higher pay scale that, in some cases, doubled the cost to the taxpayer. One retiree working in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board worked a total of 106 days in 2008-09, earning an estimated $47,000 on top of what is already one of the most generous pensions in the country.

Other provinces, such as Prince Edward Island, have reined in such largesse by stopping pension payments when a teacher takes a long-term supply assignment. But in Ontario, even as Premier Dalton McGuinty has been lambasting postsecondary institutions for loose spending, the policing system to make sure retirees aren’t milking the education budget relies on an honour system.

Read the rest here:

www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario.../article1538676/

Max,

I don't know about Vancouver, but in Richmond several teachers per school were laid off, some with up to 5 years experience. Most new teachers are 'temporary' for years. Several vice-principals were demoted back down to teachers to try and save money. Several schools are operating without a vice principal and as the older generation retire, they are not going to fill those rolls. Band teachers, PE, special needs..all cut.

So, you're wrong.

Boohoo -
Any suggestions where the budget shortfall could be made up? The Ontario model has some attraction. What else can be done if VSB is going to decline school closures?
Salary cuts across the board?
Introduce and increase user fees?
I'd love to hear some suggestions like Max's and see what sticks to the wall.

Max you can't compare Ontario with BC. I know several teachers &, my partner is an elementary teacher. While I can't give you specific figures, I understand teachers salaries & pensions in BC are some of the lowest in Canada & we have the highest cost of living.

To my knowledge BC school boards do not give preferential hiring treatment to retirees, just the opposite.

And while I'm @ it, let's disspell this myth that teachers are over paid louts with a cushy job. My partner, who is typical, is 'on stage' for 6+ hours per day, has meetings before school starts, @ lunch & after school, does her prep, marking, securing supplies, talking to parents, coordination with other staff, etc, after that. She comes home exhausted, is often in bed by 9. By Christmas & Spring Break she sleeps for the 1st few days to recharge. The entire month of July is recovery time.

I am aware of 2 principals who are 56 & retiring because the stress is to much. My partner has been asked to become a VP & then principal. She won't touch it because she has seen what it does to her colleagues who have.

May I suggest, in part due to the above, the idea of shared admin is nuts. It would result in an untenable work situation IMO. The money saved would be a Penny Ballem drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of keeping a school open which is running significantly below capacity. Look @ Ken Denike's numbers - $12,000 / student in an under utilized school vs $8,000 provincial funding. Any business would see the obvious - this does not make financial sense, so bite the bullet & close these schools. A business cannot operate @ a loss & a school board can't either.

Why isn't the school board going out to the parents & properly explaining the options to the parents? Maybe they are but, I'm not aware of it. Keeping little johnny in a half empty school just because is not going to improve his educational experience. I am aware that the smaller the school, the fewer extra clubs, activities, resources, smaller library, computers, etc are available. Even then, teachers are overburdened with to many voluntary activity responsibilities. Parents are not giving their children the best opportunity for the best education possible by resisting change.

What's such a big deal about changing schools? I went to schools in 3 different cities & I survived. Lots of others do also.

Now, let's get down to the nub of this debate. Only so much is going to be saved by using existing empty spaces for adult ed, etc. So, where will the other dollars come from? The biggest portion of the SB budget is staff. Janitors are already shared between schools, office staff is stretched. That leaves teachers, resource / library personnel & teachers aids. Teachers aids & resource types are already cut back & shared.

My partner has 4 special needs kids in her class this year & 1 aid for half a day. The theory is the autistic child in the morning is not autistic in the afternoon. She cannot devote the time she should be to the other 18 - 20 children because keeping the 4 special needs is more than a full time job. So, the other 18 - 20 are not getting the education they should be. Not closing these underutilized & I would argue, underperforming schools is not doing anyone any favours, especially the kids. They are the ones in the end getting short changed.

What's going to come out of this is that the already way over stressed staff are going to be even further cut back, resulting in even less real teaching happening, a lower quality learning environment & more teacher burnouts. And, what's really going on here, is that this is going to adversely affect not just 5 underpopulated schools but, the entire Vancouver School District. So instead of having the parents of 5 schools wanting to lynch the Trustees, it'll be the parents in the entire City.

But wait, the impact of this won't be fully evident for a year or 2, by then, hopefully, Vision will have vanished. So, the new Board will be left to make those 'tough decisions' Vision keeps telling us they're making now. Cleaning up someone else's mess is never much fun & the way politics works is that the one's doing the cleaning up get the blame as well. I can see the same thing happen ing @ Council & Parks Board.

When the discussion turns to how tough the teaching profession is the numbers get fuzzy and the evidence rests on anecdote.

When it's contract time everything gets a lot more specific. The current collective agreement, like all the previous contracts, was imposed by Cabinet through legislation, not bargained. This was the result of the intransigence and illegal job-action (i.e.strike) by the BCTF. It was settled once the union executive faced contempt-of-court charges and the Minister of Finance offered a $5000-per-member signing bonus.

Under the current contract teachers work 185 days/yr. That works out to 37 thirty-hour wks/yr, or 1110hrs/yr. Average teacher incomes are $70K/yr and they enjoy a pension and benefits package (and job security, regardless of performance) that the average worker can only dream about.

The average taxpayer works at least 250 days/yr, at least 50 forty-hour wks/yr, or 2000 hrs/yr (nearly twice as much). His average income is $34K/yr (less than half). His job is tough too.

So cry me a pedagogical river.

landlord,

Anecdotal as it may be, I assure you the typical teacher doesn't arrive at the bell and leave at the bell. My wife is paid to work from 8:52-2:45. She is typically there from 7:30-4:30 talking to parents, organizing sports teams, helping kids with extra work, etc... She deals with kids crying, parents crying, broken arms, broken homes, special needs, etc...

Then she comes home. She answers parent emails for about an hour almost every day. Marks work, writes report cards, writes day plans, etc...

Then she's described by ignorant fools how lazy and undeserving she is.

I was reading through the recently released stats ranking the international community on reading, math and science amoung 15 year olds.

Shanghai-China took first spot right across the board - Canada sat about 6th.

On an averge their children spend 41 more school days in class. They also start all day school at the age of 3 (hours 8 - 4) and many tend class on weekends.

Finland ranked in the top 3 and their students speak 3 languages by time they leave elementary school.

Now 6th is not bad especially compared to the Americas that hit 28th and 30th spot, depending; but, when you have a country of a few billion people striving for educational excellence, you have to wonder how it will effect countries in the future, especilly those that have large humbers of immigrants from those countires.

As it is now, there are a lot of job postings that specifiy you must speak Cantonese or Korean etc....

I wonder if there will be a negative impact to our English speaking population.

The thrust of the CC piece was the refusal of the school board to close 5 schools in order to reduce the budget overrun. Looking at the last posts I'd like to see if there are any suggestions to turn it back to topic.
Regardless of the rhetoric by boohoo, landlord's point, that teachers are fairly compensated, has legs. What I'd like to hear, and this board has failed to address, is how on earth is the VSB going to meet its budget, given there is no more $ in the kitty?

Throwing the cat back in to the canary cage for one second I ask :

Boohoo- do you think teachers are willing to take a % cut across the board to assist the VSB?

Landlord - do you think working parents should be paying more user fees to augment the publicly funded school system?

Everyone - should the VSB be held to their assigned budget? What ideas have not been broached that could assist the VSB in these fiscally restrained times?

Personally, I'd like to see the 5 schools in question considered for rezoning/ sale, with agreement in principle with the VSB, Vancouver City Planning and development community, that any future development include an adequate school component provided by the developer in exchange for an adequate density bonus.

there's one suggestion. Does anyone have any others, or are we back to recycling the usual complaints?

The challenge is out there.

@douglas: My proposed solution to the "shortfall" in the VSB operating budget was printed below at the beginning of this thread.

"Submit a deficit "needs" budget, provoke confrontation with Minister, Minister appoints Special Administrator to take control of VSB and balance budget, Vision proclaims: "See, the Liberals trample on democratic rights and immorally close schools and lay off unionized staff. Join us to fight for justice for children and a better pension and benefits package!"."

At the same time BCTF will continue to challenge every administrative decision through the grievance process and every Ministerial decision through the same courts for which they showed their contempt during the last round of "collective bargaining". Their goal? Retaining and expanding their control of the K-12 system for the sole benefit of their members and at the expense of all the other "stakeholders".

Landlord:
that's not a proposed solution, that's a prediction in bitchy clothes.

Much of what you say may well come to pass (don't get me wrong, I think that is a likely outcome, and as useless a one as the VSB itself these days)

What I want to know is whether people on this board have the ya-ya's to propose actual alternatives, be they the bloggers or those responding. Alternatives someone may be able to take to a school board meeting and say -" excuse me comrade Bacchus, but did you ever consider ...x... ?"

Can anyone creatively fill in the 'x' ?

Douglas, I suggested the schools be closed:

"Look @ Ken Denike's numbers - $12,000 / student in an under utilized school vs $8,000 provincial funding. Any business would see the obvious - this does not make financial sense, so bite the bullet & close these schools. A business cannot operate @ a loss & a school board can't either."

And for another reason which also has nothing to do with BCTF, etc:

"And, what's really going on here, is that this is going to adversely affect not just 5 underpopulated schools but, the entire Vancouver School District. So instead of having the parents of 5 schools wanting to lynch the Trustees, it'll be the parents in the entire City."

IMO this is the only rational option. Even the staff report acknowledges that closures are still on the table for next year.

It's been tried. The Minister appointed an advisor to VSB to recommend several steps they could have taken to address their deficit budgetting. The only recommendation VSB followed was to examine school closures. This de-generated into yet another "It's all the Liberals' fault" finger-pointing session (complete with NDP MLAs)with Chairperson Bacchus standing up for the long-standing VSB principle that "The buck passes here".

There have never, ever been any cuts to the K-12 budget in BC. Never. Increases every year regardless of dropping enrollment and mediocre results. Every nickel of those increases has been vacuumed up by salaries and benefits to employees.

Their union is rich, well-organized and they have the NDP by the balls. Their needs come first. Boards (even those not infiltrated in conflict-of-interest by members or their families) have looted operating budgets for the last 10 years to keep up with the demands of BCTF.

Those hard-working, dedicated teachers who arrive an hour-and-a-half before the bell and give so selflessly of their "spare time" to coach teams etc. all withdrew those services during the BCTF work-to-rule campaign during the last strike. Those who refused were disciplined by the union.

The integration of special needs students was a contract demand from BCTF, intended to increase staffing levels. It has nothing to do with what's best for students.

@boohoo: Like I said, cry me a river. Working conditions (including class size, the most expensive item in the budget) are specified in the collective agreement. It's not the responsibility of teachers to address family breakdown or nervous breakdowns or poverty or injuries or anything else except the curriculum (written by BCTF). They're not qualified to deal with any of that. Most of them can't even teach children to read, spell or do sums by the third grade let alone acting as social workers.

Neither VSB or BCTF or even the NDP has any incentive to balance K-12 budgets. They collaborate in driving up costs while making pathetic excuses for their failure to produce anything but discord and disruption.

Apple -

thanks. I tend to agree with you and I enjoyed your post and previous (lengthy) one as well. My next question then is how does one get the VSB to accept the reality and live within their budget without all the pointless rhetoric?

I agree with many of the sentiments expressed by the likes of Landlord, Mike Klassen, Bill (especially) et al that flow from the frustration many feel with the current VSB and the 'class war' model.

But are we destined to relive the same divided bulls#&t politics over and over again (we've been watching this movie forever in BC)? Or is there a way to bring the governing board's words and actions into line with their elected duties?

That's why I challenge the board to respond sans rhetoric, with solutions that stop feeding the 'class war' monster, and push the VSB towards realizing they govern on behalf of all of us and not their ideological friends.

Thanks again apple

@boohoo: Like I said, cry me a river. Working conditions (including class size, the most expensive item in the budget) are specified in the collective agreement. It's not the responsibility of teachers to address family breakdown or nervous breakdowns or poverty or injuries or anything else except the curriculum (written by BCTF). They're not qualified to deal with any of that. Most of them can't even teach children to read, spell or do sums by the third grade let alone acting as social workers.

landlord,

It's sad that you're not joking. You clearly have no idea what being a teacher actually means. I'm sure it would go over well if parents came in to talk to their teacher and they say 'sorry, I'm legally not required to talk to you so beat it'. Teachers do and act well outside what's written in their contract. You don't want to recognize that or value that, so be it. But that doesn't mean it's not happening.

Your clear disdain for the profession and the professionals is comical, I wonder why you harbour such malicious feelings.

Apple et al:
I was just reading an intriguing piece about 'participatory budgeting' (http://www.thinkcity.ca/node/297)

Could the citizens of Vancouver request the budget be balanced by way of the ballot box?

Note I am just floating an idea, but could the VSB come up with a list of priorities along with associated budget figures, to be included on the November ballot next year. The requirement at the ballot box being that each voter vote for projects/ budget items to a certain dollar amount. Those items receiving the least votes then get the budget chop.

This could shift control of some of these decisions form the VSB to the voter themselves, removing the ideological controls while holding the budget line?

Just a quick idea... any takers? any detractors?


@boohoo: You're right. "...parents came in to talk to their teacher and they say 'sorry, I'm legally not required to talk to you so beat it".

Teachers don't do that. Instead they spend the conference time selling the BCTF and NDP line, a right they won in the courts.

For many "Beat it" would be preferable to being told that their religious values make them bigots, or how children learn to read through "whole language" practices, or hearing that "Rich=smart, poor=stupid", or how student literacy is low because the parents haven't "prepared" their 3-year-old for school, or that the solution is another big expensive, contentious union full of "early-childhood educators" or how great things are in Cuba or any of the rest of the crackpot BCTF ideology that passes for "professionalism".

Professionals don't stop working for 2 months every summer. They add 6 extra hours a day of child-care to their already onerous responsibilities. They don't whine about how tough their job is and how they're chronically underpaid. They man up and do their job or lose it.

@boohoo,

Individually, there are many teachers who are dedicated to their students, work hard and deserve to be considered as professionals. However, collectively the teachers lost that right when they engaged in an illegal strike in 2005. Collectively through the BCTF they are just another trade union looking out for their own self interests. Nothing wrong with that, just don't confuse it with being a professional.

landlord,

Are you speaking from personal experience or what drives your loathing of teachers? It's frankly more bizarre than anything.

You tell me as fact teachers recite NDP talking points while at parent-teacher conferences...that things are better in Cuba...where do you get this nonsense?

Sounds to me like you're just a bitter person with absolutely no idea what a teacher actually does.

Bill,

Baby out with the bathwater? Great philosophy.

I don't know "what a teacher actually does". You mean like actually telling children that the 2010 Olympics are the moral equivalent of the Nazi concentration camps? Like actually telling Gr.12 students that their graduation is going to have to wait, their teacher is going out on an illegal strike because showing videos to 25 people is too hard and they only want to show it to 20? Like moaning about unpaid "prep time" when their 6-hour day includes 15 min for coffee (recess), an hour for lunch and a maximum of 4 hours of direct instructional time? Like actually basing raises on seniority rather than merit, so the deadwood moves up the grid along with the good ones? Like actual endless, self-pitying demands for more money when they're already comfortably among the top 10% of Canadian incomes? Like only believeing in two things: feather-bedding and gold-bricking?

Don't get me started.

Landlord
get you started? You are well on your way. Now we all know your position. But could you help me out a little and substantiate your comments?

A report was released today into the functioning (disfunctioning?) of the College of Teachers. If it is important to the teachers to be a profession, they will welcome reform. If not, they won't. Any bets on the position of the BCTF?

http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2010EDUC0136-001546.htm

This is great ! Some objective findings facts in lieu of the bashing rhetoric - what a nice change!

Two things jump right out at me -
A) the fact finding was done at the request of majority of B C College of Teachers council, and

B) two of four recommendations (#'2 2 and 4 respectively) basically suggest province take control of the college. In other words, teachers lose the right to regulate themselves
of the other two recommendations, status quo is not recommended

These are drastic recommendations, but as the fact finding was done at the request of the College of Teachers the profession has put itself in a bad spot where resistance to change is concerned.

Let's hope this report causes substantial change in the attitude of this self-regulating profession.

landlord,

Get you started? You're already comically over the edge. I thought you might have something legitimate to say at first, boy was I wrong lol!

You're very good at blanket statements and generalizations, I especially liked the Nazi reference. But I think you can take it up a notch, please don't disappoint!

Bill,

This doesn't make it more or less important for the teachers to be professionals, they are. Just because you disagree with the union's stance doesn't make individual teachers any more or less professional.

Unions do what unions do. But union politics are the last thing on your typical teachers mind. I don't get why the teachers union is somehow so special that all its members are attacked as unprofessional/lazy/money grubbing/whatever other ridiculous insults just because the union does or says something.

If boss x of company y says something, fires someone, defends someone, or does anything contrary to what you believe is right, does that make the individual workers of company y somehow less professional?

This conversation is to vitriolic for me. Boo, you & I have direct experience with living with a teacher. We know what they think & what they do day in & day out. None of what's been said below by the detractors is even close to reality & in fact, is quite insulting to the majority of dedicated teachers.

Having said that, there are some militants who have given teachers a bad name. Many of these people have worked their way into the BCTF. I have spoken to many teachers who say these people do not speak for them on many issues. On the other hand, based on what I know of the issues like class size, they are not just trying to feather their nests but, it's because they know what it takes to teach today [& it's not quite as straight forward as it was when we were in school].

Another suggestion to save money might be for school boards to recognize the reality that they do not have the budgets to support special needs inclusion in each & every classroom any longer. No doubt that would probably be an even bigger hot potato than closing 5 schools.

But, isn't it Vision who tell us they are making the "tough decisions"?

For what it's worth my own experience of teachers, through my son, has been about one third good to excellent, one third doing the job, and one third ranging from inept through incompetent to unfit. The last group includes an individual who I continue to regret not pursuing for abuse. It's the protection and promotion of the bad that tarnishes the reputation of the entire profession.

I realize that there are good, dedicated teachers.

I think the issues that many of us have in general is the BCTF continually whining about not enough funds for education, yet will make zero concessions to help out. One of the items they outline in the budget shortfalls is the $6.00 increase in medical premiums.

How hard would it be for teachers to pay the difference out of their own pocket. That would save millions (taxpayers millions) right there.

And for heavens sake - get rid of the half days on Fridays or, pay the teachers accordingly. They should not get paid for time they do not work - but then again, it is in keeping with other unions - such as bus drivers who are also paid for 7 hours regardless if they only work 3 or 4 hours.

Unions just take, and will keep taking while blaming the government and everyone else for dollar shortages, but will not look inwards to the destruction they are causing.

Bill put a link to the fact finder - the results of which made the news last night in a large way and should have the BCTF and Teachers' Colleges running for their talking points now.

The fact finder provides an opportunity for the vitriol and caustic comments about the teacher's vocation to be shelved for a more objective look at the problem. The Fact Finder report lets a genie out of the bottle by forcing the college to own up to their problem (they asked for the report) or lose their regulatory powers.

The special interest group this particular Vision-dominated school board appears most beholden to has been publicly expose as dysfunctional. My question is do people on this board think this report may affect the views of the Vancouver School Board towards its budget responsibilities?

For example, will this make uniform staff salary cuts more palatable an option for the VSB? Will closures seem more reasonable? Or will this report, coupled with an intransigent school board, spell the end of the VSB? Is the table being set for the province to appoint a special administrator?

And please don't trot out the same old vitriol for an answer. Some thoughtful new vitriol would make for a refreshing change.

Max,

I've asked you before--where do you get this idea that there are half day fridays?

1) I do a Christmas Hamper program with one of the schools and they are half day on Friday.

2) I do work outside of my 'day' work. 2 of the people that I work with are teachers and both work half days on Fridays.

3) The BCTF realizes this practice may have to be cancelled and have stated that within news articles.

The schools I am referencing are in the East Side of Vancover.

Well, I can assure you that's not true in Richmond!

boohoo, you keep dodging the issue of the BCTF and the influence they have on education. Do you think the BCTF has a positive influence on education? Do you think they were justified in illegally striking in 2005?

Dodging what? This is the first time anyone's asked me about it.

I already said, I think the typical teachers spends very little time thinking about the BCTF... I'm not a teachers, so I can't speak to it directly, but certainly my wife cares very little about the political bs associated with the union, she's too busy doing her job.

As for the 'illegal' strike, it was made illegal by the Libs just before they were to go on strike. Convenient eh?

I think the BCTF is pretty useless as a labour organization seeing as they had one of the fundamental aspects of a union just stripped from them by the government with nary a peep...

boohoo-
you certainly dodged two direct questions that time!

question 1 asked if you thought the BCTF had a positive influence on education in BC
question 2 asked if you believed the BCTF was justified in striking in 2005

I'm sorry to jump in on Bill, but I too am curious to hear a straight answer to a straight question.

douglas...did you read my reply?

1. I said that I think the BCTF has little influence on the day to day practices of teachers. But as I'm not a teacher, I can't say for sure one way or the other it's just 2nd hand through my wife.

2. I already answered...but yes, I believe a union has the right to strike. That's a fundamental aspect of what makes a union a union. The teachers had already voted to strike, and were just about to formalize it when the province stepped in and declared it illegal. Sorry, that's bs.

All of this is deflection from the overriding sentiment here that teachers are somehow lazy/greedy/incompetent/unprofessional/etc... Here I am being quizzed on the BCTF while references to teachers and Nazi's go unchallenged. I find that incredible.

I did read your reply, and that is why I challenged it. I found it full of convenient deflections from designed to elicit your own personal opinion.

As for question 1 (do YOU believe the BCTF has a positive influence on education) you answer you cannot offer an opinion because you are not a teacher.

If you pay $100 for a fine meal in a French restaurant, and at the end the waiter asks you whether the meal was full value for the money, do you say you are not qualified to answer as you are not a trained chef?

You pay taxes ( I assume). You help fund the school system. You have a voice in how you feel that system is performing.

Your answer to question one remain a 'dodge'. This is a communication where people post their opinions and discuss. No shame in differing opinions, but spell it out loud and clear.

Re: question 2 - your answer is much clearer, but it is still not quite a direct answer. Never mind the right to strike - legal hair-splitting notwithstanding - do YOU believe the BCTF was JUSTIFIED in going out on strike at that time?

Personally I do not support professionals striking, and is why I believe the teaching 'profession' has a lot of soul-searching to do before deciding whether they are a self-policing profession or a union body. They have proven unable to have it both ways. As for the BCTF, they have politicized the educational environment to such a degree that the Avison report is nothing but a confirmation of the sorry state of affairs, and leads me to the conclusion that we must inevitably accept provincial direction wading in both over the teachers regulatory body and on the governance of the VSB.

Would love to hear more opinions on the blog topic in light of the Avison report.

The interesting question is why now? The problems highlighted in the Avison report have been the case for the last 10 years at least. Several attempts have been made to reform the College. All have failed due to the repeated refusal of BCTF to participate unless their nominees dominate the committees. Their own policy manual goes on at some length on the question of how the College should operate.

BCTF President Lambert told the CBC today that she had no idea that the College had given professional certification to an unspecified number of undesirables and moreover that BCTF never had and never would interfere with the decisions of the College. Hilarious.

When I served on the Council of a local Community School I advised parents with serious complaints to avoid the local Board and its cumbersome procedures. It was filled with so-called Trustees who were retired teachers or teachers from a neighbouring district, or the spouse or relative of a teacher or a CUPE member or a member's spouse. Their first loyalty was to District employees, not to students or parents.

I also advised that they definitely not take it to the College. Its reliance on slow, biased quasi-judicial proceedings and tendency to routinely dismiss complaints were an insult to due process and placed the rights of teachers ahead of all others. I advised them to go directly to the police and Crown Counsel.

Will Ms. Lambert endorse submitting all classroom teachers to a criminal records check? Parent volunteers are required to do so.

Landlord-
the festering problem with the politicized BCTF is such old news - I remember the debate when I was still in high school (I graduated in '81 - yikes!)

So what is special about now? I can only hazard a guess - but I think the fact that it was the B C Teacher's College itself that went to the government to claim it's own model did not work became the straw to break the camel's back.

It is important to note that the College is made up of 20 members, 12 of whom (60%) are appointed by the BCTF. It was 11 out of 20 members of the BC Teacher's College who approached the provincial government requesting the province investigate. The math therefore breaks down to include at a very minimum 3 union-appointed members (25% of the union appointees) who agreed there was a problem and signed a letter that was forwarded to government.

The review resulted in a report which goes beyond anecdotal and crystallizes the complaints we have long grown accustomed to. In short - there's a way to measure dissatisfaction beyond the normal level of public complaint, which is often ignored by those in power as 'a vocal minority'.

It will be hard for the BCTF to argue forcefully against the findings when there are union members signatures attached to the original complaint.

douglas,

Whether or not you like my answer is a different matter. But I did answer it. I don't know the detailed ins and outs of how the BCTF influences (or not) classroom teaching. I'm not interested in the political bs involved. What I do know is what I see my wife have to deal with and what she tells me. She never speaks of the BCTF, so my opinion on the matter is quite limited. Sure, I can spout off on how I 'feel', but who cares? It's irrelevent and just makes for rumour mongering gone amok. I know that's how a lot of this works, I'm not interested.

2. I said yes. How much more clear can I be? Yes, they were justified in striking. Yes, there are numerous reasons for that, most get glossed over in the media.

I say again the BCTF and teachers are different things. I've already stated I think the BCTF is useless--that does NOT equate to teachers being unprofessional or whatever else.

landlord,

Teachers are already required to get criminal record checks. Get your facts straight before you spout off.

http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/policy/policies/criminal_records_rev3.htm

Sorry boohoo:

But I disagree with you that the BCTF had a right to strike.

Any employee paid by tax dollars should never have that right.

It is nothing more than blackmail.

Just like when the CUPE/city workers went out. Garbarge was not collected for months. Ammenities paid for by tax dollars were not maintained.

But, we tax payers have to shell out more to their already substantial paycheques and pensions just to have the services we pay for.

And god forbid any non-union person steps in to pick up the slack. They become and instant target, ie; the landscaping company that sent its workers (many of whom were students at a summer job) to help clean the beaches after the fireworks.

Their workers were threatened by union thugs and they had the tires slashed on their trucks.

We agree to disagree then. If they have no right to strike, then as a union, what power do they have?

boohoo

I don't have to agree to respect the fact you are putting an answer out there (and I do).

I admit I am a hair-splitter occasionally - but for a reason. Many times people do not answer the question as it was put to them, but answer a variation of it. Sometimes this is not conscious, and this is not a criticism in this instance. Sometimes it is very conscious and deliberate, as in the case of spin.

I happen to like the simplicity of Bill's questions. They can be answered Yes or No first, and then qualified from there.

There are divergent views here, but I have little doubt that collectively British Columbians are coming to view our education system as a broken system. I pressed on this issue not only to get your answer, but to extend debate so others may also suggest other solutions - as I said earlier 'see what sticks to the wall'. Someone responding to these comments may see something others overlook, and there are some big collective decisions to be made that are coming down the pike with respect to education funding and regulation in a public system collectively paid for by you and I. The fact we pay for it makes it matter to me.

PS
To answer Bill's questions myself (and I would love to hear more answers as well) the answers would be -

1. NO - the BCTF is not exerting a positive influence on education (too politicized)

2. NO -the BCTF was not justified in striking IF they wished to maintain integrity and elevate public standing for teaching as a profession, regardless of their legal position as a union (profession vs. union being the dichotomy the teaching profession cannot resolve)

PPS -This is not to say I agree wholly with Max that any employee paid by tax dollars hasn't the right to strike. There is a useful place in my view for unions. However professional bodies are different animals.

I put those answers out as I believe it is only fair to answer the same questions as were put to you

So people in unions aren't professional? Professionals can't be in unions? Does that somehow demean them or ...I don't understand how being in a union has any relevance to the professionalism of the individual.

Or what are you implying?

The problems with unions boohoo, they get to that 'Gordon Campbell' point when they become arrogant, a bully, entitled and all self absorbing.

They loose the respect of the general public and that public's purse they keep dipping their fingers into.

Boohoo

I am implying that there is a split between the roles and responsibilities of a union an the roles and responsibilities of a professional association that by their very nature pit the two sides against one another. The following is an overly simple view but here goes -

A professional association is a self-regulating self-policing body that sets out the terms and conditions of association. It has to perform specific functions in the interest of the profession as a whole, and that includes establishing benchmarks and maintaining standards.

A union serves to protect membership and negotiate terms of employment. Its role includes defending individual members when they must be defended against assertions of unprofessionalism or misconduct.

A self-policing organization cannot fairly play both sides of this fence successfully. There is a conflict of interest inherent in the relationships. This is what is becoming clear, resulting in the request by the college for a review resulting in the Avison report.

The College of Teachers is an experiment. No other profession save nurses has the option of a union and a
professional association (not architects; engineers; lawyers; doctors).

The self-policing aspect, which is a primary function of the association, us under fire in the Avison report and beyond for allegations of union interference (the optics alone are problematic).

There are a myriad of other concerns relative to the professional association angle. There are benefits, but responsibilities as well. However, if teachers wish to be a self-policing profession, they had best review among themselves their options independent of the union. They are at great risk of losing the College, and with it a seat at the provincial table, given
a) the recommendations of the Avison report and
b) the BCTF response to the report, in today's news release which I quote from below:

"The report outlines four possible options for the college: the status quo, a substantial reorganization, creation of a new teacher certification board, or it being subsumed into the Ministry of Education. The BCTF does not favour one option over another."

To be subsumed into the Ministry of Education would end any dreams teachers have of having a self-policing professional organization, I suggest. Do teachers want to give up their seat at that table? While the BCTF does not seem to object, it is a time for some soul searching for any teachers wanting a say in the future direction of their chosen vocation. This is a significant event in the direction of the education field.

The reason I spoke up in this thread was the ridiculous generalizations and vicious insults thrown at 'teachers' as though they are all one uniform thing.

I don't care about the politics of the union, I know most teachers don't either. They're too busy teaching.

Clearly the union has issues, no one is arguing it doesn't. But the union has nothing to do with the professionalism or profession of teaching. Are there bad apples? Of course. So does every profession. But this overarching sentiment that teachers are greedy/lazy/unqualified/incompentent etc... is so far from reality it would be funny if it weren't so sad.

To think people would get into teaching to have it easy is funny. I can think of many other professions where you do a hell of a lot less and earn a hell of a lot more!

BOOHOO
"I don't care about the politics of the union, I know most teachers don't either. They're too busy teaching.

Clearly the union has issues, no one is arguing it doesn't. But the union has nothing to do with the professionalism or profession of teaching"

I understand what you are saying. There is a great difference between 'professionalism' (adjective ascribing behaviour) and professional (noun defining one as member of profession). I would not question the professionalism of a person I have not come in contact with.

That said, I did not care much about the politics of my field when I first went into it either. However a crisis in the profession arose at the same time I was gaining my accreditation, and I found myself surrounded in issues that basically threatened the existence of my association. We weathered the storm, but it was a life lesson.

The teacher's union and association are heading towards a similar, but perhaps more drastic existential battle. The day to day work reality your wife, and apple's wife, and any other teacher out there has to deal with will be affected by the outcome. The professional direction of the teaching field hinges upon the actions of the government and the college, and how they work out their differences.

Without my weighing in on either side, I believe you will find the affect of the Avison report has bearing on how teachers operate, and the repercussions will be felt 5-10 years hence on a personal level. I hope teachers not only read the report but see beyond it's words to the implications it has on their profession. forgoing a College of Teachers is a potential outcome, and a big step.

I wish yourself and your wife luck

Douglas, thank you. Finally someone who begins to see that there are 2 sides to this discussion. Boo, I concur again, teachers I know spend very little time thinking about the BCTF and a lot of time trying to be good teachers.

From what I've read there seems to be general agreement that the BCTF as well as the College needs a bit of a thrashing. OK.

Now, let's look at the other side of the coin. The very negative opinions about teachers expressed here are also held widely in the population as a whole and to an extent in the government. An argument about who's to blame 1st could go on forever. A more constructive discussion might look at finding a path out of this kind of impasse. Any thoughts?

Insults? Everything I wrote is based on readily available public documents: the School Act, the current "collective agreement", VSB policy manual (a surreal compendium of folly and failed dreams), BCTF Members Guide (ditto), BCPSEA website,etc. Apparently the truth hurts, particularly when it reveals the full extent of the power and influence of privileged elites like members of BCTF.

If $4 Billion/yr isn't making our students the best in the world it begs 2 questions: how much more would it take and where the Hell's the money going? According to BCTF the sky's the limit on spending and according to the Minister of Finance 95% of the budget goes to salaries and benefits for employees.

The first priority of K-12 in BC has always been and remains jobs for adults, not educational success for students.

Landlord,

Really? Everything is factual?

You've falsely claimed teachers are subject to criminal record checks. I asked about this mythical half day friday, it's a school by school decision, and those that do work longer the other 4 days.

You claim teachers call parents bigots, indoctrinate students, talk of how great things are in Cuba and of course your reference to Nazis. Where can I read about these facts?

Sorry, but I'm calling your bs.

As for this report, I read some of it. It claims the college is biased and not able to do it's job independently. So the recommendation is to have it taken over by the Province. How exactly would that change anything?

"I don't care about the politics of the union, I know most teachers don't either. They're too busy teaching."

" Boo, I concur again, teachers I know spend very little time thinking about the BCTF and a lot of time trying to be good teachers."

Teachers cannot be bothered to take an interest in their Union whose actions will have a significant impact on their lives. Are they surprised when people don't take an interest in what's happening locally/provincially/nationally where they have a lot less individual influence and are too busy trying to be good whatevers?

Actually, it is a convenient way of enjoying the substantial financial benefits the Union gets for them without having to accept responsibility for the nasty bits and maintain that illusion of professionalism.

Bill, you know you raise a good point about how teachers, and citizens in general should have a more active roll in their union/government. I'm quite sure most of us should/could do more.

But then you go and add the personal insult questioning teachers professionalism and it makes me just want to ignore your valid point because you needed to get that cheap, petty, dig in.

It's insulting that you question my wife's integrity, and the integrity of teachers in general based on the politics of a union.

Apple, Boo, Bill and others -

the teaching vocation is at an impasse - that's a good word apple. It has a strong union (BCTF) and a fledgling (in the grand scheme of things), and dysfunctional, professional board (College of Teachers). The desire of teachers under the college model is, I believe (and correct me if wrong) to gain regulatory control and elevate teaching to full professional status on a level with other professionals. This is in my view a noble goal, and would serve the public and the teachers well if functioning properly.

The Avison report recommendations will result in either reorganization or abolition of the College. Abolition of the college and control overtaken by the province, something the BCTF does not appear to object to, will further push the public towards viewing teachers not as responsible professionals, but self-interested unionized workforce. The BCTF does not object for it does them no harm as an organization, and their mandate remains intact. However it will tarnish the public view of teachers if they wish to hold themselves out in the public eye as 'professionals' in the sense that they are seen as independent and self-regulated, and serve the pubic interest above their own. This is not an attack on the integrity or ethics on any individual level- but a prediction of the optics should the teachers fail to maintain control of the College and fix it so that it can function independently of the union.

Working towards fixing the College model will demonstrate that teachers wish to be taken seriously as a profession. Defer to government control of the regulatory aspects of the field and the public view will largely be that teachers are still just one big union, and cannot exercise the responsibility expected of them as professionals.

My hope is that those teachers who are tired of hearing the overgeneralized put-downs and wish to battle those stereotypes recognize that this is a critical moment for them. In the battleground of public opinion, the seeds are being sown which will determine for years public perceptions that seem to be at the essence of this war of words -

Are teachers 'professionals' (I mean this in the self-regulating sense of the word) or are they only 'trained union workers' ?

It is up to the teachers themselves to look hard at this equation and sort out which direction to lobby its college to take. If they don't get active now, the default decision will be made for them. Once regulatory control is subsumed by the government, teachers lose any quest for independent control of their field, and default to being another 'union', and ultimately no one gains.

Thank you for taking the time to summarize the issue so clearly. I agree completely with your analysis but would say that given it is the interests of the two key players - the BCTF and the Province - to disband the collage, it is more likely that the function of the collage will be folded back into the Province.

"Where can I read about these facts?"

Reference to Nazis: http://www.citycaucus.com/2009/10/visions-school-board-chair-defends-political-program-aimed-at-children

Viva Fidel: Teacher magazine (BCTF propaganda tool) pick an issue.

Mythical half day friday: at my children's school it was Wednesday. Hope you've got day-care.

Ridiculous generalizations and vicious insults: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/pubs.htm
see also:
http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/legislation/schoollaw/revisedstatutescontents.pdf
or even:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia_Teachers'_Federation

As to the Avison report, some context:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/07/bc-bctf-teachers-college-lawsuit.html

Indoctrinate students: http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/reportcard/archive/2009/12/22/fsa.aspx

Call parents bigots:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_Murray_Corren
Sorry children, God and your parents are evil. Let's discuss my sex life with kindergarten students.

I think that covers it. I've done your research for you without calling anyone an ignorant fool.


In the distant past there were some labour relations problems between the teachers organization and the province. At the time it was determined if they split into the BCTF to look after the labour issues including being able to strike and, the College to do the professional stuff. Obviously the formula which evolved from that has not worked.

George, your comments do bring the beginning of some clarity to understanding that aspect of the current unacceptable state of affairs. Does anybody have any ideas about what the solutions might be?

One solution would be to make membership in the BCTF optional and not compulsory. Teachers who opt out would still have to pay membership dues but only that portion relating to contract negotiations. This would enable teachers to decline to participate in Union actions they might feel are unprofessional without fear of reprisals.

Bill
agreed. I know I'm a little long in the tooth to still be a dreamer, but I believe the development of a STRONG professional organization, with all the rights and obligations bestowed on the lawyers, engineers, architects, doctors, etc. would in time limit the need or desire for the union, as many of the aspects the BCTF 'fights' for (in the us vs. them model) could be negotiated through teacher's input into School Act changes. Teachers would be able to sway legislation by their earning a 'seat at the table' with those making the legislative changes. The same concerns could be addressed by a professional organization in a more productive way.

This being B.C. I won't hold my breathe, but that is the logic I thing should guide the teacher going forward in this morass.

Good luck to the teachers - good luck to the parents - good luck to all

What kind of job can I get in physical treatment with out being a certified Physical Therapy Assistant?

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